Friday, 3 November 2017
Milling About at Hull & East Riding Museum
Laura Wilson: Milling About
Hull & East Riding Museum
36 High St, Hull HU1 1NQ
7 October - 6 December 2017
Milling About by Laura Wilson explores Hull’s and the East Riding of Yorkshire’s history of growing grain and producing flour for baking bread. Inspired by the archaeological collections in the museum, Wilson worked with archaeologist Dr. Melanie Giles, University of Manchester, to explore the evolution of ancient grinding technologies and their affect on the human body.
This new commission by Invisible Dust for Surroundings, a Humber Museums Partnership programme, was presented within the archaeological galleries, in a building that between 1856 and 1925, was part of the Corn Exchange and is situated opposite the now demolished Clarence Flour Mills. Set to a soundtrack by Mira Calix, the video follows the protagonist enacting the repetitive motions of grinding flour by hand using quern stones, a common practice in Britain until the Romans brought their engineering skills here and as Dr Giles says, ‘eased the burden on the body’.
‘Historically quern stones would have been very personal objects, and often destroyed when the owner died. This was a daily ritual producing just enough flour to make bread, the upper stone is rotated or rubbed to and from on the lower one: the stones grind each other and produce dust. It is rhythmic movement, there is a pace to it but these movements are laborious, demanding and necessary: the body grinds.’
Laura Wilson’s research included visits to Skidby Windmill, the local family-run organic millers J. Stringers & Sons and the deserted village of Wharram Percy. She also met John Cruse, co-ordinator of the Yorkshire Archaeology Society’s Yorkshire Quern Survey; Dr. Ruth Pelling, Historic England Senior Environmental Archaeologist; and Dr. Richard Osgood, Senior archaeologist of the Ministry of Defence, to discuss her ideas.
Curated by Lara Goodband.
Photo: Laura Wilson, Milling About, 2017 (still from video). Commissioned and produced for Surroundings by Invisible Dust in partnership with Humber Museum Partnership. Photo credit: Laura Wilson